A higher purpose to mortgage broking


January 13, 2012

Rob Barnard is head of business development at Aldermore Residential Lending


TVs are about to change.


Gone are the days when you switched on the box to watch the early evening news and Match of the Day. We now live in a world where your telly is a device that links you to an almost limitless world of TV channels, internet sites, YouTube videos – even your bank account and slideshows of your holiday pics.


Organisations such as Apple and Google have not been slow to recognise the potential of the TV market and it may not be long before we’re buying TV sets manufactured by these two technology giants.


I was recently watching a TV interview in which a spokesperson from Google was asked what made Google think it could successfully break into the TV market – after all its business is developing internet search engines.


The Google spokesperson was quick to respond, pointing out that the company is not in the business of producing internet based search engines per se; they’re actually in the business of helping people to easily find the stuff they want. At the moment their service happens to be internet based, but if they can help consumers find stuff on their TV then that’s a market they’re interested in.


Which got me thinking about the market that we operate in.


I work for a mortgage company, therefore I’ve always thought of myself as a lender. But am I just a lender or really in the business of helping consumers put a roof over their heads? A loan is, after all, only a means to an end. It’s thinking like this which, ironically, takes you back to the roots of housing finance and the days of terminating building societies.


And what business are you intermediaries in? Are you actually in the business of broking finance or does your profession have a higher purpose?


Perhaps you’re actually in the business of ‘dream realisation’ because consumers come to you to make their wishes come true, be it to buy a house or help them plan for their retirement. Again, a mortgage or pension are simply a means to an end. Understanding your clients’ dreams could unlock the door which leads you to their real needs.


Am I playing with semantics or does my line of thinking have any real purpose? Well there is a danger that we made the mistake of misunderstanding what markets we’re actually working in.


Is Kodak in trouble because it believed it was in the business of making film, rather than the business of capturing images? Could Nokia be looking over a precipice because it made the mistake of thinking that it was a mobile phone company and missed the threat from computer and software manufacturers such as Apple and Google?


Perhaps we’re all under threat if we simply believe were in the business of manufacturing and distributing mortgages. My business could make the mistake of thinking that our only competitors are other banks and financial institutions. You could make the mistake of thinking that your competitors are other financial advisors.


Meanwhile the likes of Google and Apple may come to the conclusion that they have a valid role to play in our markets – and then we’re all in trouble.


Not possible? In May last year Google launched an online financial advice service in the US called Google Advisor and has been piloting a similar service in the UK called Compare UK mortgages.


So are you really in the finance broking business, in which case you need to work out how to take on the mighty Google, or is dream realisation more your style of business?

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